"What do you want me to write?" - Improving Students' Verbal Descriptions and Interpretations


Doug Andrews, Wittenberg University


The ultimate assessments of how much students really understand in an intro stat course are their verbal, contextual descriptions and interpretations of the various exploratory and inferential analyses. But what do we want our students to write about, and how can we as educators help them practice these writing skills? Most texts are sorely lacking in criteria for good writing and in activities for developing good writing. Participants in this session will connect with one another on what students should write -- what students should look for and discuss in distributions of variables and in relationships between variables, and on how they should interpret confidence intervals and p-values from significance tests -- all in context. Participants will also experience first-hand a simple, active, potentially collaborative, pervasive technique for using peer writing to improve student writing and thinking and learning throughout any statistics course.


As Professor of Statistics at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, Doug Andrews is the lone statistician in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, where he has served since graduating from Iowa State in 1989. Andrews is responsible for all of the department's curriculum in probability and statistics, including Wittenberg's new statistics minor. Aside from a modest number of formal publications and some scattered private consulting work, almost all of his professional activities pertain directly to statistics education -- presentations at stat ed sessions, serving as referee and on the editorial board for the JSE, and broader participation and leadership in the statistics education community.


Handout (PDF)